Objectives To investigate perceptions of medical students on the role of online teaching in facilitating medical education during the COVID-19 pandemic Design Cross-sectional, online national survey Setting Responses collected online from 4th May to 11th May 2020 across 40 UK medical schools Participants Medical students across all years from UK-registered medical schools Main outcome measures The uses, experiences, perceived benefits and barriers of online teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic. Results 2721 medical students across 39 medical schools responded. Medical schools adapted to the pandemic in different ways. The changes included the development of new distance-learning platforms on which content was released, remote delivery of lectures using platforms and the use of question banks and other online active recall resources. A significant difference was found between time spent on online platforms before and during COVID-19, with 7.35% students before vs. 23.56% students during the pandemic spending >15 hours per week (p<0.05). The greatest perceived benefits of online teaching platforms included their flexibility. Whereas the commonly perceived barriers to utilising online teaching platforms included family distraction (26.76%) and poor internet connection (21.53%). Conclusions Online teaching has enabled the continuation of medical education during these unprecedented times. Moving forward from this pandemic, in order to maximise the benefits of both face-to-face and online teaching and to improve the efficacy of medical education in the future, we suggest medical schools resort to teaching formats such as team-based/problem-based learning. This utilises online teaching platforms allowing students to digest information in their own time but also allows students to then constructively discuss this material with peers. It has also been shown to be effective in terms of achieving learning outcomes. Beyond COVID-19, we anticipate further incorporation of online teaching methods within traditional medical education. This may accompany the observed shift in medical practice towards virtual consultations.